By Scott McLaughlin, DFP Staff
On paper, a 2-2 tie at home against St. Francis Xavier University is a disappointing way for the Boston University men’s hockey team to open its 2009-10 season. But as anyone who’s ever participated in an exhibition game will tell you, results aren’t the most important thing in the preseason. What actually happens in the game is.
And as is the case with most exhibition games, there were both positives and negatives for the Terriers to take away from Saturday night.
The most noticeable of these positives was the Terriers’ total domination in the shots category. BU outshot the X-Men, 53-16, including a 19-3 margin in the first period and an 18-3 margin in the third.
Unfortunately for the Terriers, X-Man goalie Joseph Perricone, who is in his first year at St. Francis Xavier after spending five seasons with the Moose Jaw Warriors of the Western Hockey League, stood on his head, making 51 saves and rarely getting caught out of position.
“I’m glad we didn’t get 53 shots on us,” BU coach Jack Parker said. “I thought their goalie played well. I thought we shot into him a lot, too, but he made some very nice saves.”
BU’s constant possession and consistent offensive pressure reached its climax with just under five minutes to go in the first when St. Francis Xavier took three penalties in just over a minute, culminating in a power-play goal for junior forward Nick Bonino.
After a Matthew Bragg hooking penalty, Rob Warner gave BU a 5-on-3 when he got called for cross-checking just four seconds into Bragg’s penalty. A minute and two seconds later, Josh Day took a slashing penalty.
The Terriers kept the puck in the zone for the full 3:22 (including two minutes of 5-on-3) they were on the power play, peppering Perricone with nine shots during that time. They finally found the back of the net when the rebound of freshman defenseman Ben Rosen’s slap shot found its way to Bonino on the right doorstep, where he buried it into the empty net.
Although they did find the back of net once, the Terriers missed a golden opportunity to put a crooked number on the scoreboard and completely deflate the X-Men’s spirits by failing to score during the 5-on-3. Instead, withstanding BU’s offensive firestorm proved to be a turning point in favor of St. Francis Xavier.
“We were lucky to get out of that with them just scoring one,” X-Man coach Brad Peddle said. “I think that re-energized our group, and in the second period, we came out and started playing much better.”
BU, on the other hand, started to get away from what had been so successful in the first ––throwing pucks into the crease and crashing the net in search of rebounds.
“One of the disappointing things, and I said this to my team, about the game was we appeared as if we wanted to make some pretty goals or some easy goals, and we didn’t really work hard enough to go get the four-foot goal,” Parker said. “We wanted to take the 25-foot shot or make the great pass, but in reality, goals are scored from two feet out most of the time, not 30 feet out.”
One of the few exceptions to this more lax approach was sophomore forward Corey Trivino’s goal with 4:10 left in the second. Freshman forward Alex Chiasson took the puck toward the front of the X-Man net from the left corner, but lost control before he could get a shot off. Luckily for the Terriers, though, Trivino gained control of the loose biscuit at the top of the slot and roofed it over a down-and-out Perricone to give BU a 2-1 lead.
But Perricone returned to brick-wall form in the third, saving all 18 shots he faced in the frame to keep his team in the game. The X-Men knotted the game at two with 2:41 left in regulation when junior goalie Adam Kraus failed to cover a bouncing puck and Bryce Swan managed to whack it past him to force the tie.
Missing players: Victor and Vinny Saponari, Colby Cohen and Grant Rollheiser were all inactive for the game. The Saponari brothers were away from the team to deal with a death in the family. Cohen was given an extra week to recover from offseason hip surgery. Parker said he “could’ve played, but we didn’t want to rush him back.” Rollheiser is recovering from a leg injury that is not believed to be serious.